Monday, August 24, 2015

Jonathan

I met the nicest boy in China this summer. And when he introduced himself to the group on the bus, I thought to myself, How is that fair? You see, my daughter and I went on Gladney’s 2015 China Service Trip in July. After playing with toddlers and doing crafts with older children for a few days, we took a trip to the mountains of Zhang Jia Jie, and the orphanage made it possible for twelve older children to accompany us. Jonathan was one of these children. He is 13. My daughter is 13. She was adopted at 7 months. He is still waiting for a family to come be his.



It was on this 3-day trip and its many exhilarating bus rides, that Jonathan and I ended up being seated near each other, across from each other, and next to each other, (my daughter always seemed to be somewhere else, I could hear her laughing); and so began a happy-to-see-you-again—on a bus, at a meal, in a line, and on a mountain—acquaintance.

Jonathan has the warmest smile and the kindest eyes. It is hard for me to describe how genuinely warm he is because it is something you have to see and feel. On one bus, we were seated next to each other on a long bench in the very back. Jonathan was by the window. As he was looking out the window, I opened his hand and put in two Skittles—red and orange. He turned to me and said, “Thank you” and smiled. His left side was nearest to me and he looked perfect in every way—handsome kid. Jonathan has weakness on his right side due to cerebral palsy. It is noticeable but not disabling. Jonathan walked over 5 miles, climbing hundreds of steps, just like the rest of us on our third day of hiking in the mountains

Jonathan’s personality reminded me so much of my daughter’s—introverted and often quiet: the type of kid who tries really hard even when they’re not great at something; the type of kid that doesn’t make a fuss when he’s given a pink plastic raincoat to wear at a major tourist destination; the type of kid that doesn’t mind a 45-year-old American woman taking numerous photos of him, even on a crowded pagoda; the type of kid who gets overlooked (for years), doesn’t hold a grudge, and still hopes for a family.




I could see Jonathan enjoyed being himself with his friends—all boy like my 6-year-old son and completely silly like my 13-year-old daughter. It never did rain, so Jonathan and another boy cleverly turned his pink raincoat into a parachute, tossing it down from the second floor to a courtyard below. And when we stopped to rest at a river, he was thrilled to throw rocks into the water. I got the impression he had never done it before. Back on the bus, the China Service Trip members had a counting-off system and Jonathan playfully joined in, counting up to ten in English for me.





When we first brought our daughter home in 2002, she was like a bear cub in hibernation. We had to draw her out. Jonathan isn’t a showy kid, but I saw who he was. All I had to do was pay attention. He is good, kind, gentle, patient, playful, strong, and brave. Loving parents would make all the difference in the world to this child—the type of parents who would tell him he is valuable just as he is.

Jonathan is running out of time; he turns 14 in June of 2016, when he will no longer be adoptable according to Chinese law.

Could Jonathan be your son? Please contact April Uduhiri at april.uduhiri@gladney.org for more information about him!

-Melissa Hauffe